Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

If you know me and my books at all, you know I cannot resist a time travel story, and there have been many of them to choose from this year.  While this wasn’t my favorite (that was Into the Dim if you were wondering), it was certainly the one that provoked the most thought.  Complex and thoughtful, I believe this book will have a wide appeal.


Goodreads Summary

Passage, n.
i. A brief section of music composed of a series of notes and flourishes.
ii. A journey by water; a voyage.
iii. The transition from one place to another, across space and time.

In one devastating night, violin prodigy Etta Spencer loses everything she knows and loves. Thrust into an unfamiliar world by a stranger with a dangerous agenda, Etta is certain of only one thing: she has traveled not just miles but years from home. And she’s inherited a legacy she knows nothing about from a family whose existence she’s never heard of. Until now.

Nicholas Carter is content with his life at sea, free from the Ironwoods—a powerful family in the colonies—and the servitude he’s known at their hands. But with the arrival of an unusual passenger on his ship comes the insistent pull of the past that he can’t escape and the family that won’t let him go so easily. Now the Ironwoods are searching for a stolen object of untold value, one they believe only Etta, Nicholas’ passenger, can find. In order to protect her, he must ensure she brings it back to them—whether she wants to or not.

Together, Etta and Nicholas embark on a perilous journey across centuries and continents, piecing together clues left behind by the traveler who will do anything to keep the object out of the Ironwoods’ grasp. But as they get closer to the truth of their search, and the deadly game the Ironwoods are playing, treacherous forces threaten to separate Etta not only from Nicholas but from her path home… forever.

My Thoughts

This book has a slow start despite the action the protagonist finds herself thrown into within the first few chapters.  It gradually picks up steam, and readers who stick with it long enough will find a very compelling adventure full of love, betrayal, and time travel to far flung reaches.  Etta and Nicholas are the major players in this story, and their relationship is complicated by a variety of surprising elements that make for suspense and uncertainty right up until the final moments of the book.  While Etta is the protagonist, I actually think readers will find Nicholas the more complex and intriguing character – his backstory is heartbreaking and well developed.  He adds some needed diversity to the YA literary scene, and his situation will inspire some thoughtful consideration.  He will also allow this book to be one that my high school guys can enjoy as much as my high school girls.

Etta is a less well drawn character.  Her motivation in the book is  a little at odds with the initial image readers are given of her relationship to her mother.  She does, however, find a lot of growth as a result of her experiences and she has a determination and loyalty that will play well with the female YA demographic.  While I didn’t feel an intense connection with her, I think others will.

The plot is one that takes a bit of unravelling.  Readers will have to invest a bit of time to get the payoff, but I think it is worth the effort.  At times the romantic relationship took a frustrating amount of time, and that slowed the action, but it does create a more complex story and I think most YA readers will appreciate the time dedicated to developing this sub-plot.  I do think a bit more time could be spent explaining the time traveling concept, but it is clear enough for readers who can suspend disbelief and just roll with it.  My impression is that this is a purposeful lack of detail, one that will come into play as the series evolves.  I say that because the story does end with a clear arrow pointing towards more books. While it isn’t a terrible cliff-hanger of a “resolution,” it does leave the reader with unresolved conflicts, and that irritates some people beyond reason.  I wasn’t outraged, but I will be anticipating the next book starting today.

Overall, I think fans of all ages and both genders will find something to enjoy in this book.  I’m certainly adding it to my classroom library wish list and recommending it to fans of time travel and action reads.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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